Essay - Privatization of the Prison System and the Impact of the...


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PRIVATIZATION OF THE PRISON SYSTEM AND THE IMPACT OF THE DIFFERENTIATION OF SENTENCING IN POWDER VERSUS CRACK COCA*****E *****FENSE AND ***** IMPACT ON AFRICAN AMERICAN OFFENDERS

I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE POLICY

In 1986 and 1988, the U.S. Congress passed federal sentencing laws related to crack cocaine that differentiated the sentences imposed upon defendants in powder and ***** cocaine related offenses in what is known as the 'Anti-Drug Abuse Act of *****'. These stricter ***** guidel*****es were p*****sed to address the emerging *****sue of crack cocaine which was perceived to be."..a social menace that was categorically different from ***** ***** in its physiological and psychotropic effects." Crack cocaine is powder cocaine mixed with banking soda and then cooked in***** hard rocks, which are then broken up into smaller pieces ***** sold to those who use the drug by smoking it. Crack cocaine is cheaper than ***** ***** and aroused great public concern when it first hit ***** streets in the United States. According to Alfred Blumstein ***** Carnegie Mellon University, as reported ***** Coyle (2002) in ***** work entitled: "Race and Class Penalties in Crack Coca*****e Sentencing" crack cocaine began as an innovation in the drug market "***** distribution rights *****d boundaries were apportioned amongst competitors with the use of violence." (Coyle, 2002) The following table relates the median street-level dealer ***** quantities and mandatory minimum imposed by the Anti-Drug Act of 1986.

Median Street-Level Drug Quantities and Mandatory Minimums

*****

***** Drug Weight

Mandatory Minimum

Crack Cocaine

52 grams

10 years

Powder *****

340 grams

Source: Coyle (2002

***** created the United States Sentencing Commission in 1984 for ***** purpose ***** developing federal sentencing guidelines for the purpose of bringing about a reduction ***** sentencing disparity. By 1994 in alliance with provisions set out ***** ***** Omnibus Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the Commission was instructed to conduct a study relating ***** different penalties in powder- ***** crack-coca*****e sentencing. ***** study lasted ***** duration of one year ***** recommendations ***** the Commission to the U.S. Congress ***** revise the crack/powder 100:1 sentencing disparity due to findings that due to ***** small differences in the two forms ***** coca*****e ***** such sentencing disparities were not justifiable. Commission advised an equalization (1:1) of the quantity ratio that would require manda*****ry sentencing relating to the two forms ***** cocaine. Commission recommendations included advisement ***** ***** in ***** ***** should be based upon criteria other than the type of drug for determination ***** the lengths of sentences. These recommendations were rejected by the U.S. Congress along with refusal to make changes ***** the law and ***** in fact the first such move in the history of the United ***** Sentencing Commission since *****' *****mation. Once again, recommendations were made in April 1997 regarding the disparity in sentencing between crack- and powder-cocaine that the *****ial sentencing should be balanced through provision of a range of 2:1 to 15:1 for ***** to choose from among. This new recommendation "was based on both raising

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